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Language & Identity in Multilingual Environments. HIF 3620 Representations & Self-Representations Laura A. Janda. Overview. National identity linked to language History of nationalism What is a language? Why is it a core factor of identity? How many languages & countries are there?

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language identity in multilingual environments

Language & Identity in Multilingual Environments

HIF 3620

Representations & Self-Representations

Laura A. Janda

overview
Overview
  • National identity linked to language
    • History of nationalism
  • What is a language?
    • Why is it a core factor of identity?
    • How many languages & countries are there?
  • Matrix vs. embedded languages
    • Colonialism & post-colonialism
    • Group vs. individual interests
nation nationality and nationalism
Nation, Nationality, and Nationalism
  • Are innovative, recent concepts, artifacts created in late 18th century in W. Europe (Anderson 1991)
  • Prior to the advent of nationality, and in the absence of technologies such as print, railroads, automobiles, how were human societies organized?
slide4

Localcommunities

Dynastic realms

Religious communities

slide5
Local Community
  • Defined by place – people who are close enough for face-to-face contact
  • Can be multilingual

Religious Community

  • Defined by faith, but could potentially reach all mankind
  • Often used a sacred language, “superior” to vernaculars

Dynastic Realm

  • Defined by loyalty to royal leader
  • Eventually took on nationalist features in W. Europe
nationalism a product of w european romanticism
Nationalism – A product of W. European Romanticism
  • Three German philosophers:

Johann Gottfried Herder

Wilhelm von Humboldt

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

nationalism a product of w european romanticism1
Nationalism – A product of W. European Romanticism
  • Three German philosophers:

Johann Gottfried Herder

“Has a nation anything more precious than the language of its fathers?”

nationalism a product of w european romanticism2
Nationalism – A product of W. European Romanticism
  • Three German philosophers:

Wilhelm von Humboldt

Language is the “spiritual exhalation” of the nation

nationalism a product of west european romanticism
Nationalism – A product of West European Romanticism
  • Three German philosophers:

Johann Gottlieb Fichte

“Men are formed by language far more than language is formed by men”

German nation and language are superior

a modern definition of nation anderson 1991
A modern definition of nation (Anderson 1991)
  • An imagined political community that is both limited and sovereign
  • Imagined because members cannot all know each other
  • Limited because no nation encompasses all of mankind, nor even aspires to
  • Sovereign because nations came into being during Enlightenment and strive for freedom
  • Community because a nation is conceived of as a horizontal comradeship of equals
what do the people of a nation share
What do the people of a nation share?
  • A name
  • A language
  • A territory
  • Myths & memories
  • A culture
  • An economy
  • Rights and duties

An “ideal” nation-state assumes

ONE nation = ONE state

Q: Which are necessary? Which are un/chosen? Which are objective/discrete?

language andersen 1991
Language (Andersen 1991)
  • A language is a powerful means to root a nation to a past because a language looms up from the past without any birthdate of its own, and suggests a community between a contemporary society and its dead ancestors
  • Poetry, songs, national anthems create a simultaneous community of selfless voices
why is language a key factor in identity janda forthc
Why is language a key factor in identity? (Janda forthc)
  • Vehicle for culture (both “C” and “c”)
  • Vehicle of transmission for “wordless” media (dance, cuisine, handicrafts)
  • If language is lost, access to culture is also lost
  • Cultural concepts are embedded in language
  • Language and culture co-evolve, are continuously tailored to each other
what is a language a dialect
What is a language? A dialect?

Q: What’s going on?

  • Mutual comprehensibility?
    • This works for some situations, but are there counterexamples?
  • It doesn’t work for :
    • German (incomprehensible dialects)
    • Norwegian,Swedish,Danish (comprehensible)
    • Slavic (both situations)
    • Chinese

A: IMAGINATION

See Ethnologue\'s criteria

problem with the ideal nation state
Problem with the “ideal” nation-state
  • Q: How many countries are there in the world?
  • A: 192.
  • Q: How many languages are there in the world?
  • A: At least 6912.
why are languages important harrison 2006 janda forthc
Why are languages important? (Harrison 2006, Janda forthc)
  • They contain information about culture and human interaction
  • They contain information about sustainable use of niche environments
  • They contain information about the human brain

Languages are repositories of human knowledge

Most languages of the world belong to indigenous nations

Most of human knowledge is in the hands/mouths of indigenous peoples

matrix and embedded languages
Matrix and Embedded Languages
  • Matrix – a language that is connected to political structures, that serves purposes of national or regional communication
  • Embedded – a language that is used within a single ethnic group, that is under pressure from a matrix language

Nearly all indigenous languages are embedded languages

colonialism post colonialism
Colonialism & Post-Colonialism
  • Colonialism has
    • Created “new” boundaries and identities that persist in post-colonial era
    • Treated indigenous peoples and their languages in different ways
    • Sometimes shifted the identity of languages as matrix vs. embedded
group vs individual interests for indigenous languages
Group vs. Individual Interests for Indigenous Languages
  • Group Interests
    • Preserve indigenous language
    • Have monolingual speakers, transmission to young generation
    • Have education in native language
  • Individual Interests
    • Social and economic upward mobility
    • Fluency in (one or more) matrix language
bibliography
Bibliography
  • Anderson, Benedict. 1991. Imagined Communities. London/New York: Verso.
  • Edwards, John. 1985. Language, Society and Identity. Oxford: Blackwell.
  • Harrison, K. David. 2006. When Languages Die: The extinction of the world\'s languagesand the erosion of human knowledge. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Janda, Laura A. Forthcoming. "From Cognitive Linguistics to Cultural Linguistics", to appear in Slovo a smysl/Word and Sense.
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